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Concern for students?

By Dalyn Johnson
On February 5, 2021

Photo by Alaina Burris

Ottawa University has yet to test students for COVID-19 in the spring semester.

With the pandemic seemingly on the rise, one would think tests would be a priority for the university as the second semester takes place, jumping right into athletic events and student programs for all to participate in. 


Students were sent back to their home residents after the fall semester. States such as Texas, New York and California all have a high number of reported cases and are considered hotspots. The possibility of students bringing that virus back to campus would be a reasonable concern for those who feel unsafe. Social distancing would be the most cautious way to help prevent the spread of covid if the university did not have the finances for tests. 


Athletes make up 88 percent of the school’s population. In the fall, multiple athletic programs had to quarantine on more than one occasion due to health and safety precautions. The spring semester will bring many of those same obstacles to more teams competing.


Martha Dodd, an Ottawa campus nurse, feels particularly good about how students have been addressing their health. Students are sent daily ATS questionnaires to report their day-to-day symptoms. If students feel any of the following such as body chills, level of fatigue, cough, pain/difficulty breathing, shortness of breath, sore throat, body aches, loss of smell/taste, headache or stomach issues, they gets flagged. Dodd then contacts the individual to gain the “student’s permission (so we can) automatically send a notification to the teachers, coaches and dining services” if they need meals brought to them while in quarantine. They are then directed to the health department to set a free testing appointment conducted without having to go out of their vehicle. 


Dodd says there has actually been a decrease in reports on campus as there are very few students currently in quarantine. Using ATS questionnaires helps prevent the spread of the virus as students report symptoms. 


“At this time of the semester last fall, we had 25 positive cases,” Dodd says. “Currently, we are only at a fifth of that number now at only five.” 


It is still early in the semester, as class has only been in session for three weeks.


Dodd relies heavily on students’ integrity in order for the remainder of the semester to go as planned. This is the optimistic way of thinking of things. Students on campus are heavily encouraged to wear masks and follow safety precautions, however trusting young adults in a life or death situation does not always sit right with everyone.  


CDC Ensemble forecast projects there to be 496,000 to 534,000 deaths in the US by Feb. 27.


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